Comparisons: Warriors 106 Rockets 97

This is a pretty good Houston Rockets team the Warriors beat tonight.  16-12 overall, something like 13-4 in their last 17 games coming into Oracle.

If this keeps up, Adam Lauridsen is going to start pulling his hair out. Watching games like the last two, I would hate to have to keep thinking up reasons why Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and David Lee are not good enough to be the core of a perennial playoff contender. That’s gotta be hard.     

Which is the better Big Three?  The Warriors’ Ellis, Curry and Lee or the Rockets’ Martin, Lowry and Scola?  There probably hasn’t been a better backcourt in the league so far this season than Lowry and Martin.  But I didn’t see the “undersized” Ellis and Curry get outplayed in this game, did you?  Quite the contrary.

Luis Scola is universally admired as a winning power forward.  But he doesn’t do one single thing better than David Lee.  And especially rebound, where Lee has him beat by an average of 3 a game over the last several seasons.  I wonder, does anyone in Houston call Luis Scola “soft”?  I ask that because that’s the word being put out on David Lee and his 18 points and 10 rbs per game by Adam Lauridsen and Tim Kawakami and their minions.

I happen to think that the Warriors’ Big Three — if played in the right system — are far better than the Rockets’.  But to avoid argument let’s call them roughly equal. So why is it that the Rockets have such a significantly better record than the Warriors?

Samuel Dalembert v. Andris Biedrins and Kwame Brown:  Regular readers no doubt guessed where I was going with this.  I’ve been talking about Dalembert for some time, because Joe Lacob passed him over, at exactly the same salary, in order to inaugurate the execrable Kwame Brown Era.

We got to see just how much better Dalembert is than Kwame Brown in the first quarter of this game.  Dalembert stuffed every drive the Warriors took — three blocked shots — and his presence in the middle contributed a lot to the nervousness that led the Warriors to turn the ball over so many times.  At 2 blocks per game, Dalembert is one of the premier shot blocking centers in the NBA.

Can you guess how many shots Kwame Brown blocked in his 9 games of action for the Warriors?  Zero.  ZERO.

See, Kwame Brown doesn’t do blocks.  He is a “position” defender.

Dalembert is also a capable offensive player.  We saw him hit the open jumper at 11:25 3Q.  He’s also not afraid to catch the ball under the basket and put it in.  Because he converts his free throws at 88%.

Here’s Dalembert in 2011 for the Rockets: 7.6 pts, 7.7 rbs, 2 blks, 88% FT

Here’s Biedrins:  2.6 pts, 4.9 rbs, 1.3 blks, 20% FT

And the Kwame Brown Era:  6.3 pts, 6.3 rbs, 0 blks, 44% FT

I happen to think that the presence of Samuel Dalembert in the middle has been a major contributor to the Rockets’ success, just as the presence of Biedrins and Brown in the middle has been a major contributor to the Warriors’ struggles.

So why in the world did Joe Lacob pass over Dalembert in favor of the Kwame Brown Era, at the same price?  I and at least one Warriors beat reporter believe it’s because Dalembert wanted a second year to his contract.  And he got that, although the Rockets have the right to buy him out of the second year for a paltry $1.5 million.

And Andris Biedrins…  Did you happen to see that pick and roll play between Curry and Biedrins at 8:40 3Q?  When he set the pick, Biedrins never even bothered to look back at Curry as he rolled to the basket.  He didn’t want the ball.  Andris Biedrins has given up as a basketball player.

So why in the world did Joe Lacob refuse to amnesty the all-but-dead Andris Biedrins before this season, so that he could afford a REAL bid on Tyson Chandler or DeAndre Jordan?

I have been asking these questions all season long, and I’m going to keep asking them, as it becomes more and more apparent just how easy it would have been for a GM that really cared about winning now to take the great Warriors Big Three to the playoffs.

Goran Dragic v. No one (err… Nate Robinson):  When Daryl Morey, the Rockets GM, traded away Aaron Brooks, he made sure he got a veteran point guard back.  Because, you know, veteran backup point guards are extremely important for teams that want to win basketball games.

So why is it that Joe Lacob has seen fit to deprive the Warriors of a veteran backup point guard these last two seasons?  I don’t count Nate Robinson, because we all know that Nate Robinson would not even be on this Warriors team if it hadn’t been for Stephen Curry’s injury.  Ish Smith would.  And I don’t count Ish Smith for the same reason I don’t count Acie Law.

Nate Robinson was a desperation signing. And as interesting a player as Nate has been at times, he does not give you the things that a solid backup point guard can give.  He is just not all there mentally, as Mike D’Antoni and Doc Rivers and Scott Brooks — a trio of very good coaches — have already discovered.  Nate is the kind of player you might want to put in a game when down 10 and needing a spark. He is absolutely not the kind of player you would want to put into the fourth quarter of a close game. As I think we saw tonight.

I think that when trying to build a playoff team around a talented Big Three, it is very helpful to have a GM who is capable of being fired. Those GMs tend to have an interest in winning.

Now.

Klay Thompson v. Dorell Wright and Brandon Rush

This comparison was really the theme of this game, wasn’t it?  Mark Jackson left both Dorell Wright and Brandon Rush on the bench down the stretch, riding his hot rookie in the fourth quarter.  And thereby no doubt added fuel to an already growing brushfire of debate among Warriors fans as to which of these players deserves to be starting, and playing the most minutes.

Thompson certainly played very well in this game.  Someone apparently had a quiet word in his ear, because this was by far his best game on the boards.  For the first time this season, he appeared to make a concerted effort to stick his nose into the action, which resulted in 4 boards for himself, and if my eyes didn’t deceive me, another couple of boards for his teammates.  A nice improvement, that is absolutely necessary for this undersized gang-rebounding Warriors team.

Thompson certainly has every appearance of being a special player on the offensive end.  Going beyond the obviously great shooting ability, his handle and playmaking ability are really remarkable — not just for a rookie, but for any NBA player.

There is a large contrast between Thompson and Rush in this regard.  Rush just has terrible hands, awful really.  He also has difficulty dribbling in traffic — we saw two horrid TOs in this game.  And he’s not a playmaker for others.

Dorell Wright is a playmaker, though, as anyone who saw him average three assists playing point forward for the Warriors last year knows.  And I’m curious to see how the battle for playing time plays out between Thompson and Wright this season.

As good as Thompson looks offensively, is he really better right now than Dorell Wright? Take a look at Wright’s line in this game. 3-4 and 2-2 from three. Is there a reason there why Wright only got 18 minutes?

Perhaps Jackson was dissatisfied with his defensive effort?  I frequently am as well, but still believe that Wright on a bad night is better defensively than Thompson on a good.

The growing competition for minutes between Thompson, Wright and Rush can only be a good thing.  If the effort is not there from one, the others will be more than happy to pick up the slack.

But it does tend to prove my point that Thompson won’t add much to the Warriors this season.  In terms of minutes, it’s a zero sum game: Klay Thompson’s gain will be Dorell Wright’s loss.

Until Joe Lacob trades Monta Ellis.

NOTES

Stephen Curry’s defense: Curry has very quietly turned in a couple of very good defensive games, against two of the league’s quickest and most adept scoring point guards, Ty Lawson and Kyle Lowry.  Curry has an amazing knack for staying in front of these players, not getting faked by their cross-overs a bit. A testament to intelligence over athleticism.

Check him out stuffing Lowry’s runout at 9:50 3Q all by himself.  I thought that was a shot-block.  But then I have Curry on my fantasy team. (Does that make me a fantasy homer?)

How long until the pundits notice Curry’s improving defense?

The Nightmare:  Ermmm…..  +17?  Wouldn’t you much rather have Greg Monroe of the 8-21 Pistons, who tonight ate a 21 point loss on their home floor, to the … Wizards?  Hey, Monroe got his stats.

My second favorite play of the night:  Robinson to Udoh pick and roll And One, 9:35 4Q.  Yes, Udoh can catch the ball. The finish was significantly less than beautiful, though.

My favorite play of the night: 7:20 4Q, pick and roll Ellis to Lee for the up and under And One. That was one beautiful finish, that not many power forwards have in their bag of tricks.

How running after made baskets helps the free throw disparity: 10:10 3Q, after a DWright corner three, Dalembert to Lowry to a streaking KMart for the foul and free throws.

You didn’t think I was going to mention a Warriors play, did you?

55 Responses to Comparisons: Warriors 106 Rockets 97

  1. More anti-Lacob spin…ughhh. The more I see it, Felt, the harder it is to read your posts all the way through. Yuk.

    33-33

    • I have to agree that the anti-Lacob agenda is veering into the heavy-handed. Not every personnel move or on-court strategy is dictated by the owner/puppetmaster.

      Having said that, I’d observe that Lacob brings this upon himself — mainly with too many comments about personnel, as though he is a supreme evaluator of talent. Actually, he’s a guy with a master’s degree in epidemiology, of all things, a venture capitalist who amassed enough money to buy an NBA team, and a guy who played some amateur hoops. A bit of a want-to-be and an easy target for criticism, but he’s no Steinbrenner-type whose fingerprints are on absolutely everything.

    • Three wins and the shills for Lacob come out as if they are a playoff team and Lacob is a hands off owner.
      While Mark Jackson has definitely improved his substitution patterns and allowing Curry more freedom and Udoh more playing time, he has contradicted (as Feltbot says) his opening (and losing style) style of low block half court offense and instead (Nelson style) using his players speeed and athleticism. I bristle when I hear quotes from Mark Jackson (as he did lastnight) as well as Lacob saying their defense is better and the reason for the victory. No, Udoh is playing instead of AB (Read Feltbots columns last year hint: search for Hurricane). The beauty of sports is time will tell. We can only hope MJack allows the Dubs to push the ball and pick and roll (as Feltbot has been advising for all along)

      • The same can be said for immediately trashing Lacob and his every move. Feltbot isn’t even giving Lacob a chance. He discredits every move the team makes. He sure loved to make excuses for Nelly when the Warriors had injuries yet he says the Warriors win over Denver was meaningless because the Nuggets were injury depleted. Sorry but you can’t have it both ways.

  2. Jerry West talks Warriors (from TK):

    OK, I had to ask, flat out: Jerry, are the Warriors listening to you?

    “We have a lot of open discussions,” West said of his relationship with GM Larry Riley, assistant GM Bob Myers, and Joe and Kirk Lacob.

    “I was up there last week, maybe I’m there more than you think. We talked about draft picks and rosters and talked about a lot of different names.

    “They’ve been very engaging to me. Now at the end of the day, they’re going to make the decision.

    “But we’ve had really good rapport and the guys there are unbelievably hard-working. Very impressed with the work ethic. Very impressed. Obviously, Joe wants something fantastic to happen.”

    “I watch every game,” West said. “I see some things that are surprisingly good. I’ve been very impressed with some of their players and they’ve got a terrific rookie.”

    Yes, that rookie–Klay Thompson, the wing player West circled almost immediately once the Warriors started draft preparations last summer, and the player he recommended, and the player the ended up drafting.

    Thompson had a terrific game in Denver on Thursday and, after some less than aggressive play early on, he’s on a big upswing.

    “Klay Thompson’s going to be helluva player, trust me,” West said. “He knows what he’s doing, he knows how to play. He’ll start taking the ball to the basket more. And I think he’s the best defender in the back court they’ve got…

    “There’s a player a lot of teams would like to have.

    “I told him, ‘Be more aggressive.’ But it’s fun for me to watch young players come in… I don’t know if there’s anyone in the league who can shoot with him. He’s an amazing shooter, he really is.

    “To have something like that on your side and particularly the way they play–that’s not a big team. He gives them a lot more versatility. Going forward, that’s going to be so much of a positive force for us.”

    “I think Mark Jackson’s done a helluva job,” West said. “He’s got them playing hard, and he’s not afraid to challenge them.

    “David Lee has played very well for them. Very impressed.”

    But West said he’s not hearing any big trade discussions around the league, and certainly not with the Warriors. He guessed that the talks won’t heat up until after the Feb. 26 All-Star Game.

    “I’m very impressed with these players, they look like they really like each other,” West said. “I haven’t seen anything but great effort every night. Their effort has been terrific, that tells you something there’s positive going on.”

  3. Felty Oh the irony!!! Why do you continuously call out other writers when it is blatantly obvious that you are just as biased as they are. You have an axe to grind with Lacob. You despise him and you would rather the Warriors lose just so you can say I told you so.

    • Mike Montgomery

      Yes, lets go back to the days of a half court offense with the likes of Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy and Adonal Foyle. And Monta on the bench. Remember the ‘good ol days’ being down at half 47-38? Boy was that fun to watch, oh but we must have made the playoffs with that great defense. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to start following the Bobcats, or Pistons to see a better brand of basketball.

    • Nellie Ball worked pretty darn well last night…

  4. If “he” could do all this with 100 lbs just think what “he” (and the Warriors) could do with 205 lbs of Klay! :)

  5. Nice game – W’s don’t lose many HOME games shooting OVER 50 percent from the field AND three-point land. It’s when they don’t shoot as well… And play on the road with b to b’s.

    Just once, I’d like W’s defenders stay on the floor and not foul on a Kevin Martin’s pump fakes. Martin’s making a nice living shooting free throws. Curry = take notes on how to draw fouls like Martin because at your free throw percentage, you could average 25 points per game!

  6. Whenever Udoh enters the game, I monitor the score – because I think his +/- is no fluke. Udoh – like Dalembert – can wreck havoc defensively.

    Everything said about Greg Monroe’s game – is the same spiel spewed about David Lee’s game… Losing teams, empty stats or inflated system, soft numbers, great – facilitator/shooter/passer/rebounder, Horid defender (bad +/-). Once Lee starts winning games (C’mon 36 wins is really his BEST season?), the soft label will go away. Playing hard and having great stats offensively isn’t winning. Scola’s teams seem to win.

  7. Klay Thompson – seems to me to be a much better ball handler/playmaker/shooter than Rush/D. Wright RIGHT NOW. Just wait until he gets more experience. The more I watch him play (offensively), the more I’d like to see him paired with Curry in the backcourt. Curry/Klay – what an absolutely lethal shooting and playmaking duo they might be. Kudos to Jerry West if he is right.

  8. Good point about Samuel Dalembert. When the W’s went after Brown I was wondering why. Age? (30 for Dalembert, 29 for Brown) Money? (don’t know) Contract years? Whatever the reason, it was a questionable decision. Unfortunately, I must disagree that a bad defensive night from Dorrell is better than a good one from Klay. It should be but the separation isn’t there for some reason and that allows the versatility in Klay’s game to mount a challenge. And David Lee is not soft. To my eyes, he doesn’t challenge superior athleticism effectively (as opposed to Chris Mullin for example) and he shies away from taking the big shot. In a salary capped world you have to look at the question of value. There is room for debate on whether he is worth his contract day-in and day-out, especially when he isn’t used properly (thank you Coach Smart) but, I think he is far from the biggest problem on this team.

    • I realized, upon reading the comment I wrote, I didn’t finish my thoughts well. On Klay: Dorrell has taken a step backwards so far this year while Klay has been better than expected. The nominal difference in effectiveness between the two suggests that Klay continue to get some good run to see where the steep part of his learning curve plateaus. On David Lee: He is not soft. He is a talented and reasonably rugged player; he helps the W’s. He is a great complementary offensive player; not so much on defense but, he is a net positive. As far as positions go, Center is problem 1 and problem 2 on this team.

  9. After TJ Simers hit piece on Mo Williams the other day comes this transitional, almost cuddly column on one of the more enjoyable TV play-by-play guys in the NBA, Ralph Lawler.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-simers-clipper-lawler-20120213,0,5813324,full.column

  10. Cool felt…I see you’re playing your own “Korver Challenge”

    “…beyond the obviously great shooting ability, his (Klay’s) handle and playmaking ability are really remarkable — not just for a rookie, but for any NBA player”

    ..and what is Jerry saying about Klay’s D..but then what does he know?

  11. Feltbot, you are a PRO in your writings. You provide a valuable service to knowledgeable Warrior fans who know basketball and have a need for knowledgeable and non-homer analysis.

    Dalembert was dominant in the first half. The Rockets clearly had momentum then. I had problems with Mchale’s sub patterns as he played Patterson and to a lesser extent Hill in an futile attempt to go small (Patterson -15). They took minutes away from Dalembert who stopped the drives of our guards. 2nd Quarter run by Dubs occurred after Sammy left the game (Lowry Scola and Kmart were also out significant time during that run).

    Thompson is improving game by game. His shot is as beautiful as Stephs. Regardless of his upside he has to play more if he shoots well and rebounds like last night. And I love Dwright and Brandon. Although likely Lacob will waste Rush after this year by not extending his contract (bad decisions). I would hate to see the Warriors trade Monta and sub in Klay as it would be a typical Warriors move, but Thompson is not afraid to shoot (he has an edge), and all of his shots look like they are going in.

    Not to bang on Biedrins but Udoh (31 mins) will clearly be getting more time as season goes. Interesting to see what happens tonight on the back to back.

    Slight disagreemnt on Robinson. He didnt play well last night, but you know what? 90 percent of the games he has played (most imortantly road games), he brings it and is exellent at picking up a lethargic team as the inconsistent Warriors (read Road Warriors) can play Real poorly
    on the road (yes even Monta and Steph). He is a steal for $1 mil per year (Okay so I’m as cheap as Lacob). You sound a little like MS in your writeup about him.

    You have to mention more Monta too 33 points (and all shots were in the flow), and 7 assists (he ran the point last night). All-Star. End of Story. Deron Williams among others couldnt hold his proverbial jock.

    • At the game last night, Robinson had a plus three with three steals. And was in during the second quarter during the Warrior run. His defense on the Houston guards was great as he was up in their face. He gets a bad rap.

  12. Mike Montgomery

    Houston Chronicle 2/13/2012:

    The Warriors got on a second-quarter roll the Rockets never could quite stop. They started hitting a lot of tough shots,” guard Courtney Lee said. “That got them going. Guys come off the bench and start hitting 3s. They’re at home. And once you get a team confident like that — a team like this that gets up and down and likes to shoot a lot of 3s — it’s tough to stop them once they’ve got it rolling. They had it going.”

    “We had a period there I didn’t think we had the ball movement, body movement that we need, that second quarter,” coach Kevin McHale said. “We had moved the last few games in the right direction of really cutting hard. It seemed to me the whole night we were playing in about eight inches of water, like we just couldn’t get going.”

    The Warriors had made just 25 percent of their shots through the first eight minutes as the Rockets took their nine-point lead. They began to turn things around when the Rockets’ reserves began entering the game.

    The Warriors made 55.2 percent of their shots the rest of the way.

    The Rockets led by as much as nine in the first quarter, but the offense buckled under half-court pressure in the second quarter, with the bench unable to maintain its roll from the three-game winning streak.

  13. Felty: Klay Thompson is a far superior defender than D.Wright. As of 1-29-2012, opposing SF’s were shooting 56% against D.Wright, and 44% against Thompson. See 82 games.

    Last night, D.Wright had a minus 7 rating for the game. He’s a terrible defensive rebounder, and is very lazy playing defense and commits many stupid fouls.

    I want Udoh and Thompson to come offf the bench thus providing the Warriors both a defensive and offensive presence in the second quarter. Wright is very inconsistent offensively and his starting with Curry and Ellis, hides his inconsistency. For those reasons, I would stick with the starting the line-up.

    I doubt that there will be many times that the Warriors are down more than than three points when Biedrins and D.Wright exit in the first quarter. Our second unit usually holds their own until the Warriors best line-up of Curry, Ellis, Thompson, D.Lee and Udoh finish out the second quarter.

    As long as Jackson plays Thompson and Udoh in the fourth quarter, along with Curry, Ellis, and D. Lee, the Warriors should do quite well.

    The Warriors played great with Udoh on the court last night. His playing 32 minutes is just about right.

    I want to draw attention to what he brings to the team offensively. Time after time Udoh sets great picks for other Warriors to make easy wide open three point shots, and his picks allow Ellis to drive to basket for kay-up. He significantly helped keeping Houston’s shooting to 41% as he has in other games. The Warriors play significantly better as a team both offensively and defensively when he is on the court, as opposed to when he is off the court. See 82 games.

    Now, if Jackson creates more lob passes for him at the hoop, and he starts to drive from the foul line, and he stays with his left hook shot, his offensive individual game should come around.

    He had a rating of plus 17 last night, well earned.

  14. Random thoughts from last night’s game:

    It was fun to see smallball make an appearance last night. Rush at center! Cool! It wasn’t shocking though. The Ws have been trending in that direction for awhile – and not coincidentally becoming more competitive.

    For a coach who started the season with Kwame-ball (for whatever reason, perhaps pressure from the boss), the re-emergence of smallball is probably happening right about on schedule. Because even if it goes against the Warriors’ new philosophy, in the NBA the alternative to playing to your team’s strengths is gawdawful results. Run wutcha brung and make the best of it, or lose. Losing is hard on a coaching career even if you’re just following orders.

    If Chris Mullin (owner of some of the slowest feet to ever hit an NBA floor) could play effective defense (he did), there was never a reason to think Curry couldn’t do the same. Staying in front of your opponent involves technique as much or more than sheer athleticism. And acquiring skills is Curry’s strong suit, just as it was with Mullin.

    I never understood why so many “experts” advise breaking up Ellis/Curry. Any one player is stoppable, but stopping two great talents is far more than 2x as difficult. The usual argument is the “defensive liability” the pair represents, but why not address the D problem directly before breaking up the most dangerous guard tandem in the league? And how would you replace either? Both are once-in-a-generation talents who will outscore their opponents 90% of the time even if they played zero defense. Full credit to Jackson and his coaching staff, getting better D from their guards is something they’ve done right. Not that it will necessarily prevent the boss from trading Monta.

    Gang rebounding does help, but if the guards are at the defensive net they’re not leaking downcourt for fast breaks. As great a defensive presence as Udoh has been, if he could only get his share of ribbies the Ws would get more breakaway buckets. The search for a rebounder continues.

    What ever happened to… Jenkins and McGuire? Jenkins is a good all-round PG, and McGuire is just too good to ride the pine.

    Trade Alert Warning Bells: the postgame smelled like an orchestrated promo for Klay Thompson. The kid did fine but he didn’t earn hosannas, it was way out of proportion to his contribution. In addition, during the game Fitzgerald “let slip” at least 3 times that Thompson ranks #5 in the league in 3-point shooting this season. That’s great, but… Brandon Rush is #1 by a HUGE margin, and there was no mention of that.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/statistics/player/_/stat/3-points

    So all the KT hype was an intentional effort with a purpose. One possible explanation is an imminent trade. If fans think Klay is great, then trading a starter has less negative marketing impact.

    Or maybe ownership is just wangling for a special dispensation from the league to get Thompson into the Allstar festivities somewhere. But if that’s the case, they should be pushing to get Rush into the 3-pt competition. He deserves it more than anyone in the history of the league. The highest single-season 3-pt field goal percentage in history was .524 by Steve Kerr in 94-95. Rush is at .563.

    http://www.nba.com/history/records/regular_3ptfg.html

    Maybe Dorell Wright has become trade bait in addition to Monta. With Rush and Thompson on board, and with Wright’s value enhanced by his breakout performance last year… and his lowlow salary… he’s a good candidate for a sign-and-trade deal.

    Reading too much into some overblown hype? Maybe, but I think team management is trying to make something happen. Soon.

  15. Scotch @11 and Frank @ 13. I saw what Jerry West said about Klay’s defense (best defender in the Warriors’ backcourt), and Mark Jackson rode the theme in his post-game.

    The thing about what you have read and will continue to read in this blog is that my opinions are generated from what I see with my own eyes, not from the opinions of others. I have never let anyone’s opinion sway me, let alone Jerry West. So I’m not ashamed to admit that I have been unable to see on the court what West and Jackson are telling me I should be seeing.

    I don’t think West could get any independent coach or GM in the league to agree that KT is a better defender than Brandon Rush. That’s just completely absurd. And if he’s a better defender than Monta (which he’s not), why is it that Monta always draws the tough assignment when KT is on the floor? Why is KT always hidden on the last option? Last night I saw Monta on the bigger Kevin Martin whenever possible, and KT on the smaller Courtney Lee.

    So what is West up to with his hyperbole? I’m not sure, but pumping up his draft pick, and trying to solidify the Byzantine Warrior front office behind a trade of Monta Ellis would not be the last thoughts to occur to me.

    And Frank, stats lie. It should be immediately obvious that if KT draws the weakest assignment every night, which he does, his opposing FG% should be lower than the player who night after night draws the superstars — Dorell Wright. I am far from satisfied with DWright’s utter lack of heart when guarding superstar SF’s. But can KT do better? I don’t know, we’ve never had a chance to see. And I suspect we won’t.

    It is obvious to me that DWright is by far the better team defender. Far more mobile, far longer, generates more steals and blocks. And last year I watched him make perfect rotation after perfect rotation, while this year KT frequently looks like a lost puppy. That doesn’t show up in OPP FG%.

    And as for DWright being a poor defensive rebounder? You’re going to have a tough time selling that to me about a guy who averaged 5 a game from the SF position last year. DWright is a much better — and much more willing — rebounder than KT, at least so far this season.

    All this is not to say I’m rooting against KT’s development. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’d love to see him become a two-way player, and a superstar. And if he does, I will continue reporting what I see with my own two eyes every step of the way.

  16. Felty: Most SF’s and SG’s opponent sag off and don’t guard their man at the three-point line.

    I want my SG and SF to be able to react quickly and get to the perimeter and get his hand in front of the three point shooter’s face. D.Wright, even though a little lengthier than K.Thompson, is no better at getting his his man on the perimeter, than K.Thompson. Stats seem to indicate he is even worse as opponents shoot an astounding 56% against D.Wright,and 44% against Thompson.

    But, you may be correct that D.Wright’s defensive FG shooting are worse because he plays against better opponents than does K.Thompson’s opponents, as both Thompson and his opponent are coming off the bench.

    But, as you correctly note, by D.Wright is getting more steals and blocks that Thompson, such makes him a better defender, and negates his opponents high FG%. But such may be the result of D.Wright getting more playing time than Thompson.

    With Thompson now getting more playing time and playing in the fourth quarter against starters, and D.Wright relegated to the bench, we should watchThompson’s defensive stats over the next 10 game, and such may enlighten us as to who is the better defensive player.

    Few SF or SG have the ability to get guard a SG or SF who drives to the hoop. That’s left to interior defenders. I’ve rarely seen either player stop their man near the rim.

  17. Felty: I checked and respective steals and block shots of D.Wright and K. Thompson, when their respective playing time is factored in, their steal are just about a wash, but Thompson is a slightly better shot blocker than D.Wright.

  18. From AW’s column today, on Lin:

    “Nevertheless, the Warriors did keep him for a season. Of course now, owner Joe Lacob is blaming the old coach, Keith Smart, for failing to play him as a backup last season. Lacob is playing the ‘I-knew-it-all-along’ game, and it’s downright embarrassing. Twenty-seven teams never bothered to sign Lin, so yes, the Warriors and Rockets do get credit for taking that step.”

    • In all fairness rgg, Joe Lacob DID stick his neck on the line and received tons of negative criticism for SIGNING Jeremy Lin and sticking with him (2 year contract for an undrafted rookie?) for as long as he did. Many W’s fans called it a PR gimmick of an Asian American player. You can read all the old negative posts in blog history. They don’t go away.

      Joe Lacob also was pitching Stanford’s Landry Fields – prior to the draft and probably controlling interest of the team – as a player he really liked…

      I’m not a Lacob shill by any means, but give the guy that much credit – and also that he stole the W’s from Larry Ellison – one of the richest men in the world.

    • Oh Pleez lets not get ahead of ourselves…

  19. Won’t be able to recap PHO game tonight. Have at it.

  20. Felty: D.Wright might make good rotations, but I’ve seen him lose sight of who has the ball, resulting in shots being made. I don’t think per minutes stats lie. D.Wright does not generate more steals and blocks shots tahn Thompson.

    • “I don’t think per minutes stats lie”

      OK, then, for the Warriors Ish Smith could have averaged 18 pts, 6 rbs, 6 asts and 3 steals per 42 min.

      Jeremy Tyler would average 15 pts, 9 rbs and 2 blocks per 42 min.

      Kind of makes you wonder why they’re not starters.

  21. Felty: Your mixing apples and oranges.

    There is nothing wrong in comparing two players stats by making their playing time equivalent.

    This is far different than projecting one player’s stats over a period of time as you do in the above examples. The later is misleading, the former is not.

    • Felty loves to compare apples and oranges. He is an expert at twisting numbers to make a point. Kind of like how he compared the Warriors point differential from last season to this year when the Warriors had played less than 10 games. Guess what the point differential right now is better than it was last year under Kieth Smart. Amazing how skewed it can be when you combine that the Warriors had one of the toughest schedules to start the season with the fact that it was a small sample size.

  22. Re West on Thompson: While I completely respect Jerry West, he only makes appearances for the Warriors when management wants to sell a concept. Remember the Great Center Search? Jerry had reservations about DeAndre Jordan, making it OK for the Warriors not to get him.

    Thompson is probably going to be a nice player, probably better than Dorell Wright eventually. But he’s not clearly superior right now. Saying he is is simply hype. The team is pitching Thompson, probably to smooth out public reaction to a trade. Just watch. The trade deadline is coming up soon.

    • WH, the Warriors will make a move if they can swing the trade they want. Don’t be surprised if Ellis is on his way out as long as the Warriors can get the big-name center they’re looking for.

      I’d like to know what everyone thinks about a Curry/Klay back court. Certainly they are very bright, great shooters and passers. But defense seems to be their weakness. Partnered with the B-Rush’s of the world, they could probably hold up against almost any back court, right?

      I really do like the chemistry with Ellis/Curry/Lee/Klay that we’re starting to see on the offensive end. It’s getting to the point where we are unstoppable from range, which opens up the driving lanes and the inside for Lee.

  23. I love the Dalembert/Kwame comparisons. The Warriors are a center away from serious playoff contention. If they were to get a solid 5, analysts would quickly shut up about how their core of Curry, Ellis, Thompson, and Lee can’t work.

  24. It is probably good that Feltbot cannot recap the game tonight. He would find a way to discredit the Warriors win.

  25. Q&A with MJackson before tonight’s game (from TK).

    Q: Last night you said it would take a comeback by Patrick Ewing for you not to start Biedrins at center. How many nights do you really need a true center nowadays?

    -JACKSON: A lot of nights. Tonight they have a very good center in Gortat. Outstanding pick-and-roll big man, diving to the hoop. Also can post, can hit the mid-range jumper.

    Also it’s important being able to defend a team in pick-and-roll situations. You talk about how crucial it is to their offense or crucial it is to their offense, Steve Nash pick-and-roll situations, you’ve got to be able to look at attacking him.

    It’s very valuable to have a big man. To have a presence on the floor.

    -Q: Does Ekpe Udoh defend the pick-and-roll decently?

    -JACKSON: Yes. And both of those guys do a very good job of defending the post, defending the pick-and-roll. So I think they’re giving us great minutes together.

    At the end of the day, I’ve been in this league as a player 17 years, it’s important who finishes games.

    And if I’m either one of those guys, what I want to do is put myself in position where I do my job and then if, according to how we’re playing and the match-ups, be ready to finish.

    -Q: Has Udoh adapted his game to be more like a center? Does he have to?

    -JACKSON: No, I think the luxury we have with him, he’s a guy who play the four or the five. I think early on he was somewhat inconsistent–he’ll tell you that.

    I think as of late, he’s played outstanding basketball for us. And he’s a guy that we have the luxury to be able to put him at the power forward or the center position and feel comfortable with him matching up either way.

    Q: What’s your evaluation of where the team is?

    -JACKSON: We’ve got some very good pieces and we’re playing very good basketball right now. Bottom line is we’re doing a better job of taking care of the basketball.

    When we rebound and defend, we put ourselves to beat whoever comes in here or wherever we go. Very pleased with the direction that we’re headed in.

    I’ve got a great group of guys. I’ve been on teams and I’ve followed teams where it wasn’t fun to be part of, whether it be in the locker room or in games.

    I’ve got a great group of guys–I don’t have a bad guy; I’ve got a bunch of guys who are buying into what we’re trying to do, and I’m very pleased with where we’re headed.

    -Q: You’ve got a much busier schedule coming up–a lot of games, a lot of road games. How much do you look at that and how do you evaluate that?

    -JACKSON: I totally understand that the schedule gets tough. And it’s going to be a bunch of games coming very quickly.

    But we’ve got to look at it like one game at a time. Take care of business tonight and then take care of business Wednesday night. Don’t get too far ahead of ourselves.

    Like I said a minute ago, if we play like we’re capable of playing, it doesn’t matter to me where we play.

    We are an outstanding shooting basketball team. When we defend, rebound and take care of the basketball, we can continue to put the type of performances that we’ve put together the last couple of games.

    -Q: Klay Thompson is getting more and more fourth-quarter minutes. What is he showing you to get those minutes?

    -JACKSON: Well, I was actually trying to pace him for the Rookie-Sophomore Game, but once he didn’t make it, I just figured might as well put my foot on the gas pedal and just wear him out…

    But in all seriousness, he’s earned those minutes. He’s a guy that comes to practice early, leaves late, doesn’t take days off, works his tail off and not afraid of the moment.

    He’ll shoot with three seconds left in the game the same way he’s going to shoot the first three minutes of the game. Doesn’t bother him.

    He’s a starting two-guard in this league and he’s on his way to be an elite one.

    -Q: Do you have to encourage him to shoot more or was that just earlier this year?

    -JACKSON: One time this year, and that was… I believe it was San Antonio, when he turned down a shot. In the middle of the game, I let him know, I’ll never take him out for shooting the basketball, for missing shots.

    He’s a knock-down shooter and he’s playing with great confidence, playing very aggressive, and he’s gotten so much better at putting the ball on the floor; and he’s an under-rated defender and an under-rated passer.

    He’s a guy I certainly trust on the floor when it matters most.

    -Q: You’ve been playing him at the three with Monta and Steph…

    -JACKSON: A little bit. Really just a read. Obviously it makes a difference who you’re going against at the 3 position. But I like the idea that you stretch the floor with shooters around–Monta and Steph and Klay, doesn’t get much better than that.

    I think it gives the guys more room to perform and make the defense pay the price when they over-help.

    -Q: Klay wasn’t known as a defender in college. How do you rate him as a defender now?

    -JACKSON: Well from Day 1 he was a good defender. He competed. He has deceptive size and strength. Very long. Understands what we’re trying to do–pays attention during walk-throughs, shoot-arounds.

    Doesn’t make many mistakes, and as soon as he does, it’s ‘my fault, coach, I understand.’

    But he’s guarded the best in the league. We were comfortable with him guarding Kevin Durant, closing 0ut a game. So if you can do that, then you can certainly be trusted.

    -Q: Are you trending to more small-ball with the way Klay is playing?

    -JACKSON: I won’t say that. I think we’re playing the hand that we’ve been dealt. We are a team that at times struggles closing out possessions, rebounding the basketball, and I don’t think we lose a lot when our small guys, like Klay, Brandon, those are very good rebounders for their position.

    We’ve struggled with big line-ups with rebounding, so therefore it doesn’t hurt. And I think it’s a nightmare to defend when you spread the floor with shooters.

    Ideally, we have a natural line-up. But it’ll be a read as far as who we’re playing and how well our units are playing together.

    -Q: Do you run pick-and-roll more often with the small line-up?

    -JACKSON: No, we really do a lot of it in general. It just makes it tough to defend, because now where does the help come from and you’ve got knock-down shooters all around the floor.

    We try even early in ballgames, we’re trying to get a lot of action. The pick-and-roll offense in this league in general has become the No. 1 weapon when you have guys that can make plays, especially because you can’t put hands on guards.

    It’s tough to defend and it becomes even tougher when you have shooters all around the floor, the weapons.

  26. David Lee chose a great night to put the team on his shoulders because Monta Ellis and Steph Curry just couldn’t buy a bucket. The bench was great, with Ekpe posting another insane +/-, and Klay Thompson doing his thing. Phoenix may not have much star power, but any team ran by Steve Nash can run like a well-oiled machine, so it was a nice win over the division opponent.

    • Lee just absolutely dominates when he’s 1-on-1 against an equal-sized or smaller player in the high post. His footwork as he uses the spin move to get to the basket is incredible when he’s on. Last night he was on.

  27. Phoenix:

    Someone should list all the things Udoh did last night that did not appear in the box score–Frank?

  28. With Udoh on the court, Pheonix shot only 2-5 from the field at the end of the first quarter, 2-7 in the second quarter, 0-4 in the third, and 9-24 in the fourth quarter. So, Phoenix shot 13 for 40, or 32% from the field. What other NBA team and it’s center can accomplish that?

    Since Pheonix shot 46% for the game, that means that when Udoh was not on the court, Phoenix shot in excess of 60% from the field. Enough said.

    I think that if someone wants to disect Warriors offense last night, they will see that the Warriors also shot measurably better when Udoh was on the court.

    The Truth: There was nothing wrong with Felty letting us knew the margin of scoring difference from last year to the same stat this year after only 10 games. As, it’s not wrong for you to point out has the differential is now better than last year.